UPDATE: Judge denies motion to dismiss Kettle Falls Five crimina - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

UPDATE: Judge denies motion to dismiss Kettle Falls Five criminal case

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Three members of the 'Kettle Falls Five' Three members of the 'Kettle Falls Five'
SPOKANE, Wash. -  UPDATE: Judge Thomas O. Rice has denied the motion to dismiss the criminal case against the Kettle Falls Five. The charges against the family patriarch, however, likely will be dropped because he has stage four cancer. The now "Kettle Falls Four" will be back in court.


PREVIOUS COVERAGE: The 'Kettle Falls Five' returned to federal court for a Thursday hearing on several motions, including a motion to dismiss the charges against them.

Drug enforcement agents confiscated 75 marijuana plants, $700 cash, and some firearms from the family's home near Kettle Falls in August 2012. Marijuana growth and distribution remains a federal crime.

The defense has argued that Washington state law allows each of the five family members to maintain 15 plants on their property because they were approved for medical marijuana consumption. 

Furthermore, they say Congress passed a bill in December that would bar the Department Of Justice from prosecuting anyone who complies with state medical marijuana laws, which the defense maintains their clients did. 

Instead, the defense argues state courts must be left to judge compliance with medical marijuana laws. However, the prosecution says this isn't an issue of state law.

They argued in court Thursday that state agents found sales records indicating nearly 200 pounds of marijuana processed by the family. Prosecutors say agents also found $40,000 in sales, which would make it an illegal distribution operation.

But the family maintains they have never sold marijuana. “The Department of Justice is pulling straws,” defense attorney Phil Telfeyan said.

Telfeyan told KHQ the prosecution seeks to use “expert testimony” to support their claim that the 'Kettle Falls Five' distributed marijuana. The defense questioned that “expertise” in the hearing Thursday.

Judge Thomas Rice is expected to rule on the motions in the coming days. If he declines the defense's motion to dismiss the charges, the case will go to trial February 23rd. 

Judge Rice also ruled Larry Harvey, the owner of the home where agents found the plants, won't have to stand trial if he shows proof of his failing health. Harvey is battling pancreatic cancer.

If convicted, each member of the group could face a minimum of 10 years in prison.
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